Strong Houston flooding has left thousands of people and at least five schools without power after thunderstorms creating tornadoes, rain and hail swamped roads and bayous on Monday, according to reports.
According to the Associated Press, the soaking comes as Texas battles one of the worst droughts on record. CenterPoint Energy reported that almost 20,000 people are without power, while the Houston Independent School District said five of its campuses lost power.
The Houston Chronicle reports that much of the heaviest rainfall, 4.5 inches recorded in some areas, especially south and southwest of the metropolitan area, happened before noon as the fast-moving storm quickly pushed east. FuelFix.com reported via an outage-tracking map updated by CenterPoint every 15 minutes that areas inside Loop 610 were hardest hit, particularly between Texas 288 and I-45.
A tornado and hail were both reported out in the Katy area, while an apparent tornado destroyed parts of garage roofs and homes as well as toppled wooden fences in a residential area near Bissonnet and Gaines near Sugar Land. One 60 mph wind gust was also reported near Highway 290 and the West Loop. Nickel-sized hail was reported at Highway 99 and Fry Road, and even bigger hail was seen reported in Wharton County early Monday morning.
The Chronicle reports that he flooding has caused more than a dozen freeway intersections to be inundated and people in cars to be stalled in high water, forcing them to call 911 for help. However, Houston Fire Department ambulances and engines had trouble responding to emergency calls because of the high water, prompting them to be rerouted around flooded areas.
Metro was also forced to reroute some buses. The Metro Rail service downtown became limited because of water on the tracks. And, light rail service is limited to the Downtown Transit Center and Preston Station on Main Street.
The storm and tornado warnings in Houston ended early Monday, but more rain is expected. The city has already increased its readiness level to be prepared for flooding-related evacuations.
The Chronicle also reports that after the storms, the Houston area is expected to dry out quickly. A cold front is also expected to hit later this week, dropping temperatures to near freezing.
Furthermore, the heaviest downpours and thunderstorms are expected in the afternoon as the storm moves through Houston on Monday. Some areas could get up to about three inches of rain but most areas will receive about one inch.
The high temperature will peak at 71 under cloudy skies, while the overnight low will be about 51. South winds will blow five mph to 15 mph. Rain is 100 percent likely.
View some footage of just how much damage the flood has done to Houston below: